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In February 2011, I interviewed Nora again — this time at the JCC Manhattan about her book, “I Remember Nothing.” I assumed she was too busy and in demand to want to grab dinner afterwards, so I didn’t suggest it; she did. We went with a mutual friend to a tiny Italian restaurant where we shared a bottle of wine, laughed about actresses she’d loved who got so much plastic surgery that she could no longer cast them, and she complained that she couldn’t see the menu in the candlelight.
As recently as this past February, Nora hinted that she wanted a glimpse of my new apartment so I suggested she come by for lunch and she insisted on buying everything and bringing it. She arrived with a shopping bag brimming with too many choices from Butterfield Market on Lexington Avenue, and of course, after we’d put all the sandwiches on plates and the soup in bowls, I sampled voraciously while she barely picked.
She received the official apartment tour and pronounced it “perfect.” Then she told me to get different shades for the dining room (and texted me a photo of her kitchen shade as soon as she got home so I could see what she meant.)
She asked me what I was writing and when I admitted I was unsure what to do next, she suddenly blurted, “You should write a screenplay. It’s not that hard.”
And I countered, “Are you kidding? It’s apparently one of the hardest things to do well.”
“Oh, I’ll teach you.” She waved it off. “You can do it. Write a draft and send it to me.”
I never got the chance. I was floored to read the news she was going and then suddenly gone.
For all her acerbic humor, she was always warm to me. For all her Jewish disconnection, she felt utterly Jewish to me.
I devoured her New Yorker pieces. I laughed out loud reading her books. I recognized myself in her films.
It goes without saying that her stunning work will outlive her. And I’ll always know where to get the best eyebrow wax in New York City.
Abigail Pogrebin is an author and journalist in New York City.